GREEN BAY — When the St. Gianna Clinic opened its doors on the HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center campus in 2015, its mission was to serve people of all faiths with medical care that reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church.
After three years of operation, the clinic has succeeded in its mission and its patient list is growing. Visits increased from 564 in its first year to 2,501 from September 2017 to September 2018. The rapid surge in patient visits led to the clinic’s need to expand, said Dr. Robin Goldsmith, co-founder, president and chief medical officer of the St. Gianna Clinic. The facility, originally 2,500 square feet, has added another 1,600 square feet of space. Completion is expected by Nov. 5.
“We now have an additional nine exam rooms and a procedure room, making room for at least one, if not two, more physicians,” said Goldsmith.
It all adds up to a positive forecast for the clinic’s future, which Goldsmith will share with guests at the St. Gianna Clinic’s fourth annual Gala, on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the Meyer Theatre. The evening will begin with Mass at 5:30 p.m., celebrated by Bishop David Ricken.
Following hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m., two guest speakers will address the gathering: Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna, whose name the clinic honors, and Dr. Teresa Stanton Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minn. Collett, who serves as director of the school’s Pro-life Center, specializes in the subjects of marriage, religion and bioethics. She will give a presentation reflecting the gala’s theme, “Thinking Outside the Pill: Humanae Vitae for the Next Generations.”
Collett was a guest speaker at last April’s 50th anniversary symposium on Humanae Vitae at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
“We specifically called (the Gala theme) ‘Thinking Outside of the Pill’ because we are actively reaching out to young people and young families,” said Goldsmith. “The clinic really is the embodiment of the encyclical of Pope Paul VI,” who was declared a saint on Oct. 14.
“It was his call to doctors, scientists and researchers to find a faithful way to live out life and family” through his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, said Goldsmith.
As a clinic that serves women’s fertility care and family planning needs, Goldsmith said it offers NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology), which was developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and the National Center for Women’s Health in Omaha, Neb.
“We really put in the forefront, in a faithful way, how to help couples and young people live healthy, joyful lives according to the faith and with NaPro we do it in a very scientifically, sound, research-based way in healing women’s bodies and helping couples be able to celebrate having children,” she said.
The clinic provides care that aligns with Catholic Church teachings to all people, said Goldsmith. “We fully follow the Catholic faith in the way we treat people,” she said.
The presence of Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla at this year’s Gala “is an answer to a prayer,” said Goldsmith, who first met the Italian doctor at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.
Gianna Emanuela is the fourth child of St. Gianna. It was following her birth (a high-risk pregnancy in which doctors recommended she be aborted) that St. Gianna died. Pope St. John Paul II declared her a saint in 2004.
“Now she travels around the world promoting her mother’s cause and her mission,” said Goldsmith. “She specifically said that she wanted to come to the Gala because she felt Humanae Vitae was part of the reason her mother was canonized.”
During the World Meeting of Families, Gianna Emanuela presented Bishop Ricken with first- and second-class relics of her mother. “In the following spring, (Bishop Ricken) presented (the relics) to me to help bring graces forth to the clinic and to especially increase the number of patients,” said Goldsmith.
The relics were placed in a reliquary and displayed in the clinic waiting room. Goldsmith credits the relics’ presence for the clinic’s growth in patient visits and the resulting clinic expansion.
“At that point in March 2016 (when the relics arrived at the clinic), patient numbers abruptly increased,” she said.
Goldsmith added that the clinic’s focus on “faithful medicine” — reflected in its receiving the 2017 Guardian of Excellence Award for achieving greater than the 95th percentile of patient satisfaction — has contributed to its growth.
“It’s really looking at each patient and family member as a gift from God and I think that is reflected in our approach to people,” she said. “As a result, they feel that true compassion and caring that makes them fall in love with what we do here.
“I think the fact that we pray at the clinic every day together … for our patients and for anyone who brings concerns,” makes a difference in care, said Goldsmith. “I think that prayer has absolutely been a key part to our growth, but also the community praying for us.”
The clinic is an approved lay apostolate in the diocese and Bishop Ricken serves as the clinic’s episcopal advisor, said Goldsmith. “I think that the support that we’ve had from the diocese in helping to get the word out” has also contributed to its success, she added.
Goldsmith said the gala is an opportunity to share with the community the successes achieved at the clinic. “God’s way is always the best way, and so to bring this beautiful message on how to live life and married life is one that’s needed very much in today’s world,” she added.